As the director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts, the disability rights group that helped successfully oppose the legalization of assisted suicide last November, I question Simon Waxman’s sour-grapes assertion that, in part, we turned a “referendum on the rights of the dying into a made-for-TV horror show about abuse of the disabled” (“A fundamental right to be able to die in peace,” Op-ed, July 12).
Massachusetts voters did indeed have second thoughts about Question 2, but for documented, common-sense reasons. All medical treatment can be refused, and effective pain relief is a right. Terminal diagnoses are unscientific guesses — Ted Kennedy was given two to four months to live, but lived for another 15.
Further, voters were appalled that no family notification was required in the bill. Almost no applicant gets a psychological evaluation. No witness is necessary at the suicide, virtually inviting foul play.
Finances will inevitably affect decision-making. Thousands of Massachusetts elders are abused every year, so it’s naïve to think that all families are loving and supportive.
Everyone in Massachusetts deserves respect, and everyone deserves good medical care. Dignity does not come at the bottom of a glass of 100 Seconal capsules.